The Making of An American Poet

California Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera on Inspiration, Revision, and What It Means to Be A Mexican-American Writer

How do you make an American poet?

California’s new poet laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera, answered that question with laughter, singing, storytelling, and poetry as he recounted his life and work during an event sponsored by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.

The evening’s moderator, KPCC News Editor Oscar Garza, introduced Herrera–to not one but two rounds of applause from the large audience at MOCA Grand Avenue–by quoting from the introduction to Half of the World in Light, a 2008 anthology of new and selected work. Herrera, according to the …